Productions at the Arden tell great stories by great storytellers. With recent support from the Center, the Arden has integrated visually dazzling video design into live productions (Sunday in the Park with George); featured full, robust orchestrations in its musicals (Candide); and enhanced its work for young audiences, to which the theater devotes the same resources as to main-stage productions (The Flea and the Professor and the upcoming children's theater consortium with Seattle Children's Theatre and Children's Theatre Company of Minneapolis). Center funds have also allowed the theater to invest in longer rehearsal periods and to develop a residency program for visiting playwrights, which offers audiences behind-the-scenes access to the creative process of a theater production. Producing Artistic Director Terrence J. Nolen has a particular passion for directing the work of Stephen Sondheim, who calls the Arden "the pre-eminent producer of my work in Philadelphia."
The Arden received funding to produce Sunday in the Park with George, with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, book by James Lapine, and direction by Terrence J. Nolen. This musical sketches the artistic life and thoughts of Impressionist painter Georges Seurat and his great-grandson, also an artist. Actors stand in for the characters featured in Seurat's famous 1884 painting Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte. The Arden's production used an inventive moving-image approach designed by 2011 Pew Fellow Jorge Cousineau. His design demanded nine video projectors to explore the relationship between live actors and filmed images in performance. American Theatre magazine, which is widely read by theater practitioners nationally, featured a photo spread of Cousineau's design. The complete original orchestrations were featured in the production to give full dramatic weight to the dizzyingly complex score and intricate sung text of Sondheim's work. The Wall Street Journal dubbed the revival "one of the strongest Sondheim productions of the past decade [...] sensitively staged and imaginatively designed."
For a video teaser of the production, click here.